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MLK Day Brings Fire Safety to Newark

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I assure you I have working smoke detectors in every room and a fire extinguisher in my kitchen.

The American Red Cross teamed up with HOPE Worldwide, Camden Street Elementary School and Newark Police and Fire Departments to promote fire safety as part of the school’s Martin Luther King Day Rally for Peace and Safety.

More than one hundred volunteers canvassed nearly two miles of the city going door-to-door to speak with members of the community about fire safety and prevention. The volunteers left door hangers containing Red Cross fire safety tips for those residents who were not at home. The volunteers knocked on more than 1,900 doors to spread the word about fire safety to approximately 4,500 members of the community.

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Newark resident Oria (pictured above) warmly greeted volunteers who arrived at her door and greatly appreciated the interest in her safety.

“Oh yes, I’m prepared,” stated Oria. “I assure you I have working smoke detectors in every room and a fire extinguisher in my kitchen.”

Back at Camden Street School, children visited the Red Cross emergency response vehicle where they received fire prevention coloring books and were encouraged to help their parents create a family communication plan in case of a fire.

In the gymnasium, Red Cross volunteers manned a table to educate the community and distribute materials about disaster preparedness. The gym also included activities for children including face painting, games and an obstacle course.

Simultaneously, the school held a Martin Luther King Day program, which included student performances and guest speakers. Red Cross of Northern New Jersey Community Chapter Executive Jocelyn Gilman presented the students of Camden Street Elementary School with a certificate of appreciation for their commitment to the safety and well-being of their community.

Gillman also presented two Classroom in a Box kits, each of which contained school supplies including notebooks, pencils, rulers, crayons and compasses for a classroom of up to 30 students. The kits were prepared with donated supplies collected by members of a Girl Scout Troop in Millburn.

Camden Street Elementary School honored Newark’s first responders for their service to the community. Firefighter Thomas Hodge, who has spent 12 years with the Newark Fire Department, returned to his alma mater to accept the plaque on behalf of his department.

John Grembowiec, a 33-year veteran Newark paramedic, accepted the honor on behalf of University Hospital Emergency Services. Grembowiec is a Rutgers University alumni who wanted to be a paramedic in a major city. “In New Jersey, Newark is the place to be,” he said.

Following the ceremony, Camden Street Elementary School Principal Sam Garrison led the Rally for Peace and Safety in a symbolic march around the block.

“The kids need to see unity,” Garrison said, “so it can crystalize in their minds how we need to be.”


The Red Cross is committed to teaching people the skills they need to prevent home fires. Learn how to protect your family and your home from fire hazards,

About the American Red Cross:

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit

About the American Red Cross North Jersey Region:

The American Red Cross North Jersey Region provides programs and services throughout the counties of Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Morris, Passaic, Somerset, Sussex, Union and Warren, with a combined population of 5.7 million. The region trains and mobilizes more than 3,000 volunteers who support the delivery of services in the community. Last year, the Red Cross North Jersey Region responded to 485 local home fires, helping 1,269 displaced families; collected more than 26,500 units of blood through blood drives and Red Cross Blood Donation Centers; provided 1,985 military family case services with emergency messages, helping families find assistance and/or get counseling and referrals; and trained 79,341 individuals with life-saving skills in preparedness, CPR, AED use, first aid and aquatics. Follow the North Jersey Region on Twitter @RedCrossNorthNJ.